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Build

NAS / Daily Linux Box

by jppowers

47
11 Comments

Details

Date Published

Aug. 5, 2014

CPU Clock Rate

3.5GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

38.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

61.0° C

Description

This build was multi-purposed. First, I wanted a huge NAS to move my insane movies, TV, and music collection to so it wasn't spread around multiple computers and backed up on hundreds and hundreds of CD-R's/DVD-R's/BR-R's I've been collecting since 2002. Second, I wanted to replace a Linux machine I had been using for about a year that was built in a Shuttle SFF case that had a few ridiculously irritating problems. I also wanted something that could eventually sit under my TV as a HTPC if (and likely when) I decided to go back to a dedicated linux box and not share it with my server needs. Also, on the software side of things, I wanted to setup and automate certain parts better than I had previously for things like BitTorrent and Plex.

On the software side of things, I'll just describe the problems directly related to hardware in detail as this is PC Part Picker, not "setting up and installing a Linux server for personal file sharing needs... picker." That said, here are some basics of the software setup:

  • Linux Mint 17 installed to the mSATA SSD

  • ZFS for Linux running the HDD's

  • Plex Multimedia Server for distributing the media content to my TV, tablet, phone, computers, and friends

  • A combo of Transmission, FlexGet, and ShowRSS.info for automated downloading of TV shows (that, I want to point out, are otherwise recorded by my DVR)

  • VVV (Virtual Volume View) for creating an archive of my NAS. It creates a small database of the files and metadata for each. I back this up to Google Drive. I can obtain almost all the media again without a problem, so I'm not worried about backing it up directly. As long as I have a list of what was there it's fine.

  • InSync for syncing Google Drive as there STILL isn't a Linux client.

The major problems with this build that came up after it was done are heat and software compatibility. A couple I "fixed" but a few are things to consider if you decide to do a similar build.

Heat: First of all, I've been using Intel parts for quite a long time now. The last AMD system I had was a AMD Athlon 64 X2 first generation I think. So, I've gotten very used to Intel's typically lower temperatures. My gaming desktop, even with some minor overclocks, idles in the low 30C area. Even my Shuttle Linux box ONLY scrapped up against 60C if it was under 100% load. This AMD system, out of the box with stock cooler and stock case fans was idling at 55-60C. I blamed the motherboard at first, because it only has one (count that, 1) case fan adapter. As ITX motherboards rarely are going into a large case with tons of "natural" airflow, I'm left asking "WTF ASRock?" Otherwise the mobo is bloody fantastic, but that's a huge oversight to me. So I picked up the Noctua NH-L9a and a couple of static pressure Corsair fans for the case, and a PWM fan splitter. Normally I don't trust fan splitters but considering these are low speed fans I'm not worried. Note: For a Linux build, you basically have to use PWM (4pin) fans, unless you're cool letting your motherboard run all fans at 100%. Linux's fancontrol needs that 4th pin. I went for static pressure instead of general air flow fans for this as things are relatively tight in here for where the fans are. One is in the front near the basically fully loaded drive cage, and the other is in the box as exhaust, and I wanted to make sure it got the hotter air out of there. I may approach my entire plan here again soon, though. I've gotten the system to ideal in the high 30C's to low 40C's, but it still peaks higher than I like under 100% load and takes too long to drop back down. Plus, I don't trust the reported temps in Linux. More on this later. If I redo it I'll probably see about getting a 14CM static pressure fan in front and 14CM airflow in the back. I'd also like to maybe cut out a hole from the fan grate on top of the BitFenix to run a fan controller thru, maybe.

Linux support of hardware: There are a number of parts in this build that are just not recognized well under Linux.

  • The RealTek NIC onboard the motherboard functions, but doesn't report active speeds correctly AND is relatively unstable because the kernel drivers are quite garbage. You can backboard the alx driver but it's not a convenient or simple task, and from what I could tell the network adapter was just as unstable. I dropped an Intel PCI-E NIC in instead and disabled the realtek adapter in the UEFI. Stability went up and everything reports just fine. This is not an ideal solution, obviously.

  • I'm not sure I blame the mobo or linux for this, but the mSATA SSD bounces between SDA and SDE each reboot. Not a huge problem, but annoying. As long as you set up your RAID or ZFS right it won't matter much, honestly, just irritating seeing gkrellm bounce around on these things sometimes.

  • lm_sensors reports the most ridiculous temp's for some stuff. SUPPOSEDLY my AUXTIN (no clue what that is) is -30C. When one CPU temp gauges at 35C another says 12C. Somehow the system temp is higher than the CPU, too. If I reboot the mobo reports, give or take, 20C higher than the highest of these. I know these things need to be adjusted some in linux, but I don't trust the mobo's uefi temp gauge either as that's where the 12C report is coming from in linux.

  • I originally built this with 2x4GB DDR3 memory, but upgraded to 2x8GB. ZFS is a huge memory hog. It frees up memory when it's needed very quickly, but the more the better.

Most everything else with this build has just fine, if not great. The only complaint I had about the BitFenix Prodigy for this kind of build is the location of the "front panel" stuff on the side. Day to day it's not too bad but still kind of strange on the side, but the location is irritating when you're building/need to get inside. Otherwise, it was absolutely fantastic to build in. The possibilities are endless, and I'm honestly debating doing my next gaming desktop in one. The CPU itself is plenty fast for my day to day computing (internet, email, watching movies/tv shows) and media sharing needs. I'm shocked how fast data reads and writes are with the ZFS ZRAID1 (RAID5) setup. If I had to redo it I'd probably go ZRAID2 (RAID6), but the performance hit didn't seem worth it to me at the time and still might not be.

With all the headaches caused by some of the AMD parts though, I'm considering replacing the CPU, mobo, and cooler out for these: https://pcpartpicker.com/part/intel-cpu-bx80646i34330 https://pcpartpicker.com/part/asrock-motherboard-z87eitx https://pcpartpicker.com/part/noctua-cpu-cooler-nhl9i

Performance would likely be a tiny bit better, and most of my complaints would be handled. This possible replacement mobo still only has 1 case fan adapter, though, so keep in mind a splitter and low speed fans. Altogether, it is a more expensive combo though. Even with the additions I had to make like the Intel NIC I added, the AMD build is cheaper. If you were planning on doing something similar with say Windows Server 2008, all of my problems are likely non-existent. You could even stick with the stock case fans and 3pin splitter, but I'd still recommend getting a separate CPU cooler.

IMAGES

The first 6 images are from the initial build date. The later 6 from from today, after I wrote this. A few key points:

  • the Intel NIC is a hair in the way and dirtied things up a bit, but not too much.

  • the HD Audio front panel line fits nice and snug under the NIC. If you need to get a card in that PCI-E slot ensure it's got the room!

  • sleeved power supply cables would make a world of difference here. Easily enough run around, just kind of hideous.

  • I got kind of desperate running the SATA cables for the 4 hard drives. With a zip tie (or velcro tie like I used) you can strap them to the cage easily enough, but it kind of makes a wall for the front fan to get around. Ensure you've got open space everywhere else!

  • The hard drive cages are the best part of this case. Ultra configurable. Note, if you want to run nothing but 2.5 inch drives (SSDs for a gaming rig, for instance) cooling in here is a million times easier because the cages completely remove and the back of the power supply cage can be used.

  • Same image, you can see mounting a 14cm or 20cm fan in front is probably a better idea. If you need to use a fan splitter like I did, keep in mind both fans will receive the same amount of power, so it's absolutely best to match the fans, which likely will make your choice for you like it did me.

  • The Noctua becomes a bit of a center piece. The fan helps keep airflow to the RAM and mSATA nicely, though the fan's sleeving made it a bit hard to wrap nicely.

  • The absolutely hardest part of this build was the Corsair fans. The "rubber" grommets in the fan mount points are great for reducing fan vibration making it into the case, but holy crap does it make it hard to screw in. It twists constantly while you're screwing in the fan at each point. Wasn't fun.

Comments Sorted by:

Jwood013 1 Build 3 points 40 months ago

IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL!

Please, have this upvote. I'd give more but this is all I have.

jppowers submitter 4 Builds 1 point 40 months ago

Haha, thanks. Those first images are the initial build, I added more I just took of it's current state.

Jwood013 1 Build 1 point 40 months ago

Love the new pictures. Hope this PC lasts!

onejackgold 2 points 39 months ago

nice use of software how can i do something like this. i assume there are lots of articles for doing something like what you have done its an interesting setup

jppowers submitter 4 Builds 2 points 39 months ago

There really isn't a direct run thru of what I did anywhere on the internet, it's all pieced together from different sources. I've been considering writing up a run thru of the software side of things that I did specifically. If I get something posted sometime I'll reply to let you know.

onejackgold 1 point 39 months ago

thank-you

CanadianPenguin 3 Builds 1 point 40 months ago

+1 for the Prodigy :)

FazeTechSYX 1 point 29 months ago

Sure there's enough storage XD good build

jppowers submitter 4 Builds 1 point 28 months ago

There actually isn't, down to 2.5TB free space :-(

5158Ali 1 point 23 months ago

2.5? Only used 100gb on my PC..

FazeTechSYX 1 point 28 months ago

How much things do you download I only need 2TB in all